e finally made it to Japan!
A lot of travelers all over the world flock to this country for sakura blooms every spring season. Who wouldn’t? Like pink clouds on sticks, the cherry trees make everything look so perfectly pretty. We were in Japan for cherry blossoms, too. Hence, I didn’t plan a lot of “to-see” or “to-do”; simply enjoying the hanami is good enough for me.
The forecast for the estimated average full bloom of the cherry blossoms in Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto happen to be on the day of our arrival in Japan. It was unexpected because predictions in the past usually start at late March or first week of April. A week later and the trees would have shed their petals. To say that I was over the moon that the blooms were in our favor was an understatement.
The next day we were up early for a day trip to Nara. I am not a morning person so I usually drag myself out of bed. This time though felt easier. It helped that the sun rises so early in Japan. It was only around 5:30 in the morning, and yet the bright sunlight was already peeking into the windows of our apartment. Rising to a fully lit room felt natural and a bit like waking up late on a weekend morning.
How to get to Nara from Osaka:
There are two train lines that connect Osaka to Nara – the JR Yamatoji Line and Kintetsu Nara Line. If you have a JR Pass, then JR line is a wiser option to save on cost. But if you don’t have the pass like us, Kintetsu Nara Station is more centrally located and near the sightseeing locations. Nara Park is only about five to ten minutes’ walk from Kintetsu Nara Station.
While following our GPS from the train station to Nara Park, it started to drizzle. Thus, we decided to take shelter in a nearby shack until the rain slows down a bit. Thankfully, the pour only lasted for a few minutes. We’re back on our way soon after.
At the end of an almost empty road, we saw a middle-aged lady selling deer cookies. Beside her stall sits a troop of deer curiously eyeing our approach. When I bought a pack, two deer instantly got up on their feet and smelled the cookies I immediately hid in my pocket. Ha! I was surprised, I thought they were going to knock me off.
The funny thing is that a moment ago, they were just sitting patiently in a corner. They don’t bother the lady seller even though the smell of the cookies is right in front of their nose. But as soon as she handed me the biscuits, they were so ready to get friendly. One even followed us across the street.
So cute and smart! They know how to do business. :)
After feeding the deer who stalked us until he got his share of cookie, we headed straight to Nara Park. I instantly squealed in excitement when we reached the main site where the cherry blossom trees are! Here’s why.
If the cherry trees aren’t enough to convince you, then these friendly deer might. They are everywhere – resting under the trees, leisurely walking around or making friends with any human willing to give them their favorite cookie. It’s magical!
I was planning to lure a deer with something in my pocket but it turned out I didn’t have to – they know! A few came to us and gave me that adorable puppy eyes look. How can I resist?
I took out the cookies and they quietly munch down one each, straight from my hand. Don’t worry, they are tame and gentle. But I assure you, they are crazy for cookies and won’t be happy with just one. Some will even lightly pull whatever they can grab from you whether it’s the hem of your shirt or the strap of your bag. Quite friendly, aren’t they?
The perks of being early and having a gloomy weather – there was no one around except for a few people walking by and a few more who were having pre-wedding photo shoots. For a few hours, we enjoyed the park without a crowd.
Also, it turned out that we came in at the back access of the park. On our way out, we reached the main entrance and saw that that’s where the majority of the tourists are… instantly smitten by the number of deer waiting for them. So if you can, beat the crowd and head inside first. There’s a bigger open area and it’s less crowded.
Lastly, for awareness’ sake — I witnessed some people abusing the deer, forcing them to take a selfie or shoving them when they don’t want to give their cookies. I don’t fully disapprove of animal tourism because I believe that we learn and understand through interaction. I just hope that we all do it responsibly and treat animals the way we wanted to be treated – with care and respect. :)
PS. The deer are very quiet and tolerant. I didn’t hear their voice even once. Do you know how they sound like? I’m curious! Share your thoughts in the comments below.